• Mara Shanahan

How I Organize and Plan Our Homeschool - Blossom & Root First Grade

Updated: Feb 3, 2021

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"OK, let's get started", I thought, as I began our homeschool journey last month. "How?" was all I could think. "Where do I begin?" I was excited and eager, but definitely overwhelmed. The curriculum by Blossom & Root is well organized and tells you exactly what you need for supplies and books. It's just a matter of reading the curriculum and getting yourself ready. She lays out the curriculum in a way that makes it really easy to make it your own. In fact, she urges you to do so. Do what works for you and your family. With that said, there is a slight learning curve at the beginning before you figure out your rhythm. There are many ways in which to organize your plans, schedule, and curriculum. You have to do what works for you. This is just how I did it.


Download and Print the Curriculum


Blossom & Root offers their curriculum as a downloadable digital file. This was appealing to me at the time because I wanted to start right away. I just had to print it. This seems overwhelming at first, but once you've done it and have it organized, it's no big deal at all. The curriculum comes in various pdf files, some of which are parent guides, and some are materials for the student. Just print it all, 3-hole punch it, and keep it organized in piles until you can get it in the binders. Which leads me to....


Organize into Binders


Get yourself four binders - two sturdy 1.5 inch, and two floppy 1 inch. One of the 1.5 inchers will be for all your parent guides. Also, get some sturdy tab page dividers - you'll need 5. I fit all of the parent guides in this binder, divided. I just keep sticky notes or page markers on the page/week that we are on in each section. I call this my book. I also keep my planner/scheduler at the beginning of this binder, which I'll talk about below. I like having all of "my" stuff together in this one place so I'm not going back and forth to different books while planning. As long as I use page tabs to keep my place on the week that we're on, it's easy-peasy.


Your other three binders will be for work/journals for your student. The sturdy one is for The Stories We Tell curriculum pages. You'll be using this frequently throughout the week. I also keep a sticky page tab on the page we're on in this book.

The two "floppy", smaller binders are for your child's nature study and science journals. They'll be writing in these once/week and you may want to carry them with you if you're going outside on an adventure for either of the Wonders of the Earth & Sky studies that week.


Source Your Materials

There are some materials that you're going to need to track down to purchase to go along with the curriculum. There are lots of resources listed in the curriculum that are easy to find for free at your local library, videos online, or otherwise found for free or low cost. She gives good resources to parents that are easy to follow. However, there are a few things that you're going to want to have on hand and own as part of your homeschool supplies:


Books

There are lots of books referenced within the Blossom & Root curriculum. Utilize your local library and YouTube links to read-alouds as much as you can. However, as I mentioned above, there are some titles that are good to have as part of your household library, for the duration of your homeschool journey and moving forward. These are:

















Other Supplies

Some of these will prove to be indispensable, some maybe not. Please take a good look at and understand the curriculum before you purchase everything. This is in addition to basic supplies you likely already have in your house, such as pencils, paper, crayons, markers, glue sticks, children's scissors, etc.


Rocks and Fossils Kit and a plastic organizer box for the Rock, Mineral, and Fossil Collection Nature Study:











Paint, wooden peg dolls, craft sticks, pipe cleaners, origami paper, yarn, washi tape, and modeling wax for creating figures for your Story Basket:






















Bananagrams or Magnetic Letters for Word Play:












Construction paper, watercolor paints, large art paper, and air-dry clay for art lessons and/or nature study journaling:











Composition notebook and clipboard for outdoor nature study:









Plan Your Schedule

OK, you have your goods and you're ready to roll. Now what? What do you want your day to look like? What are the dynamics in your household? This depends on a lot, including whether you have other children in different age brackets and if you, yourself, are also trying to get your own work completed. You have to decide what time of day school will work best for your family and your child. Remember that you are in charge of your own homeschool day! This is an amazing revelation and so freeing. In my house, I choose to start homeschool in the morning, immediately after breakfast. Our day looks something like this: Breakfast, Yoga, Language Arts, Math, Lunch, Special. The Special is one of the following: Nature Study, Science ("Wonder"), Music, Art. I try to wrap everything up by Thursday every week, and Friday is left for extras. We often do extras over the weekend, or we do nothing school related over the weekend. Remember, you're in charge. I also don't "schedule" our learning based on time of day. We just go along with the flow as we see fit.


When I'm doing my planning for the week, which takes maybe 30 minutes, I simply use a one-page weekly schedule, the template for which I simply downloaded for free online. Do a search and find one that works for you. Mine has all 7 days and a section for notes. Each day is just a block, not separated by time. This works well for me. I've printed out about 20 weeks, 3-hole punched them, and put them in the front of my planning binder. Then I dated them and marked what week we are on. As we go along through our day and week, I check off things as we complete them. I also check off things within the printed curriculum, as well as write the date at the top of the pages, to record when we completed that lesson. When the week is over, I move that week's planner page to the back and start over. Also, if there is a specific planned activity for some time in the future, I go ahead and write it in the notes for that future week. For example, I plan to complete the week 14 literature study, which includes Hansel & Gretel, during the week of December 14th, to coincide with my plan to make gingerbread houses with J, so I wrote a note on that week to remind myself. There are also some long-term projects included in the curriculum, which should be started at certain points. I've made notes for all of those so that I don't forget about them. This is what my schedule looks like, pretty much weekly:



If you're just starting out, keep in mind that you're probably going to have a plan to begin with, and then it's going to change. And probably change again. It's all good. Remember, you're in charge! As long as you see progress with your child, and everyone is having fun, it's all good.


Do The Thing

Once you have all your supplies and you've planned and planned again, it's time to rock-n-roll. Start off by doing something exciting! Get your kiddo excited to learn again! If you're like me, as well as a lot of parents right now, you came into homeschooling as an alternative to "remote school". You might have some time in which you'll have to "unschool" your child and/or convince them that learning really is fun and you're going to have an amazing time together. It's going to be OK. I've been at this for a month now and my son is already so far ahead in reading than he was at the beginning of the school year. You'll get there. In the meantime, find your tribe. Join a homeschooling community or two on Facebook. Other parents can be a wonderful resource!


Some days are going to be spectacular! You're going to do everything in your planner and everyone is going to be happy and excited! Your projects are going to turn out exactly as you planned and the weather is going to be perfect! Some days, not so much.


It's ok. Don't let it stall you. Just pick up where you left off and move along. Let's do this!




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